Lamb Squazetto with Soft Polenta
BASIC TOMATO SAUCE:
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4 inch dice
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
- 1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
- 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.
Yield: 4 cups
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat water and salt until boiling. Drizzle in polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly, until all polenta is incorporated and mixture begins to thicken. Switch to a wooden spoon, pull off heat and continue to stir until thick as paste.
Stir in the cheese and continue to stir until it is melted and incorporated.
Season lamb pieces with salt and pepper. In a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the lamb pieces, 5 to 6 at a time, and brown on all sides. Remove and repeat for all the lamb. When the lamb is cooked, add the onions and smoked pancetta, and cook until the onion is softened and starting to brown, about 9 to 11 minutes. Add the rosemary, thyme, caraway and fennel and stir to blend. Add the wine, tomato paste, chicken stock and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Return the lamb and juices and bring to boil.
Lower the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour, or until the meat is tender. Remove the cover, check the seasoning and serve with soft polenta.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over high heat until smoking. Add all the chicken parts and brown all over, stirring to avoid burning. Remove the chicken and reserve. Add the carrots, onions, and celery to the pot and cook until soft and browned. Return the chicken to the pot and add 3 quarts of water, the tomato paste, peppercorns, and parsley. Stir with a wooden spoon to dislodge the browned chicken and vegetables bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce heat and cook at a low simmer until reduced by half, about 2 hours, occasionally skimming excess fat. Remove from heat, strain, and press on the solids with the bottom of a ladle to extract out all liquids. Stir the stock to facilitate cooling and set aside. Refrigerate stock in small containers for up to a week or freeze for up to a month.
Yield: 1 1/2 quarts